16 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you be filled with sorrow because of Saul? I have refused to have him as king over Israel. Fill your animal horn with olive oil and go on your way. I am sending you to Jesse in Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” 2 But Samuel said, “How can I go? Saul will hear about it. Then he’ll kill me.” The Lord said, “Take a young cow with you. Tell the elders of Bethlehem, ‘I’ve come to offer a sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice. Then I will show you what to do. You must anoint for me the one I point out to you.” 4 Samuel did what the Lord said. He arrived at Bethlehem. The elders of the town met him. They were trembling with fear. They asked, “Have you come in peace?” 5 Samuel replied, “Yes, I’ve come in peace. I’ve come to offer a sacrifice to the Lord. Set yourselves apart to him and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he set Jesse and his sons apart to the Lord. He invited them to the sacrifice. 6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab. He thought, “This has to be the one the Lord wants me to anoint for him.” 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider how handsome or tall he is. I have not chosen him. I do not look at the things people look at. Man looks at how someone appears on the outside. But I look at what is in the heart.” 8 Then Jesse called for Abinadab. He had him walk in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord hasn’t chosen him either.” 9 Then Jesse had Shammah walk by. But Samuel said, “The Lord hasn’t chosen him either.” 10 Jesse had seven of his sons walk in front of Samuel. But Samuel said to him, “The Lord hasn’t chosen any of them.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these the only sons you have?” “No,” Jesse answered. “My youngest son is taking care of the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him. We won’t sit down to eat until he arrives.” 12 So Jesse sent for his son and had him brought in. His skin was tanned. He had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, “Get up and anoint him. He is the one.” 13 So Samuel got the animal horn that was filled with olive oil. He anointed David in front of his brothers. From that day on, the Spirit of the Lord came on David with power. Samuel went back to Ramah.
Israel had asked for a king “like all the other nations have”, and God gave them a man who looked every bit a king: “the most handsome man in Israel—head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land”. But his heart was not in it: after being anointed, and filled by God’s Spirit, he hides because he does not want what God has chosen for him. He sets out to do what God wants, but always thinks he has a better plan. Now God has rejected him. Saul is now so intent on holding onto power that Samuel is in fear of his life if he does what God asks of him. (Interestingly, God does not contradict that: a man who thinks he knows better than God is inherently dangerous.)
This experiment in following the world’s pattern for leadership has been a sad failure.
Now God chooses a king His way. He doesn’t choose any of Jesse’s sons who look like such obvious choices. “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” He chooses Jesse’s youngest son, seemingly so insignificant that his own father
leaves him out in the field with the sheep. Yet he has a heart for God and that changes everything.
What strikes me from this?
Having my heart aligned with God’s heart is more important than anything else. As that happens, I need to think about people in the same way he does: looking at the heart before outward appearances.
As the election comes closer we will be presented with many politicians trying to look like obvious choices (like Saul) using sound bites, spin, and image to look like Australia’s leaders. I need to pray and vote for leaders with hearts for God (like David). And this will require real insight from God, as it did with Samuel.
Written by David Cornell